In the Year of Natural Sciences
In college, I took an astronomy course. The instructor spoke too fast and had a habit of erasing a formula when he was halfway through the equation, saying, “That’s not right. Is anyone else confused?” No one mentioned stars or nebulas. No one asked when we would build model rockets and blast our eyes off the launch pad in arced trajectories we could calculate.
The stars seemed an inaccurate science. Determined to know something definite about disaster, I gave up on charting constellations. I signed up for geology where I learned to memorize epochs and eras like the birthdays of loved ones and hoped to become a dinosaur. I waited for my skin to become scales, to adopt a limp-wristed stance, for my digits to decrease in number, and my head to bob along to a nimble gait. My wrists remained rigid. Still human, I cannot explain my nightmares about comets, the tendency to catastrophize, how I wake up at night asking, “And what kind of telescope do you want to be remembered as?” Refracting, reflecting, radio, x-ray.